It’s a new week of WandaVision, which means a new time period and visual style borrowed from an iconic family sitcom, and of course a new theme song:
Don’t try to fight the chaos
Don’t question what you’ve done
Some days it’s all confusion
Easy come and easy go
But if it’s all illusion
Sit back, enjoy the show
Let’s keep it going
Let’s keep it going
Through each distorted day
Let’s keep it going
Let’s keep it going
Though there may be no way of knowing
Who’s coming by to play
Hardcore Bryan Cranston and/or Frankie Muniz fans will of course recognize that Episode 6, “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”, is an homage to Malcolm in the Middle, one of the 21st century’s more underappreciated series. And that show’s high-energy music and camera choices, coupled with the fourth wall breakage, ends up being a pretty solid template for what might be the show’s most disturbing episode to date.
“She recast Pietro?” is the final line of this week’s Previously On…, but Evan Peters slips seamlessly into the cast of the series, playing up “Uncle P’s” manchild tendencies while bonding with young Billy and Tommy. It’s Halloween, so Billy’s in costume and both of the twins are rarin’ to go for trick-or-treating. Vision, dressed as a “Mexican wrestler,” tells Wanda (dressed as a “Sokovian fortune teller”) that he’s got plans with the neighborhood watch that night, so Pietro volunteers to take the boys instead.
It’s all very cozy and familial, even though (as Billy explains to the camera) not only is “Mom” being weird right now, but she and Vision “aren’t fighting… they’re just different.” This is, of course, because Vision is at this point aware that something very weird is going on — in fact, when he leaves, he doesn’t actually join the neighborhood watch. Instead, he basically heads for the edge of town, observing as he goes the increasingly limited movement of the citizens — who, if only based on the one tear streaming down a woman’s cheek as she repeats the same gesture over and over again, are not in a great place.
Meanwhile, Wanda and Pietro wander the neighborhood with Billy and Tommy — a neighborhood now packed with children. With the help of his super-speed (and by the way, no one seems to notice/care that he’s using it), Pietro gets up to some Halloween-esque pranks, but also keeps trying to connect with Wanda. While he’s confused by what’s going on, he seems to be the only one relatively aware of what Wanda’s doing, observing that she’s handling “the ethical considerations of this scenario as best you could” (which serves as an explanation for why we haven’t seen any kids before this episode — she’s sparing them as much of this torture as she can).
Speaking of torture… Vision makes it to the edge of town, marked by “Ellis Avenue,” where he finds Agnes (dressed like a witch) in her car, paralyzed and numb. Vision snaps her out of it with a touch, but doing so doesn’t exactly help things — after recognizing him as an Avenger, she then asks if she’s dead, because isn’t he? And then the hysteria takes over, with her laughing as she cries “all is lost” (goddamn Kathryn Hahn deserves an Emmy for her work on this show, I swear) until Vision returns her to blissful numbness.
Outside of Westview, what have the fine folks of S.W.O.R.D. been up to while all this is going on? Good question! Episode 5’s cantankerous confrontation with Wanda has Hayward in a real snit and when he and Monica butt heads over how to proceed, he kicks her, along with Woo and Darcy, off his base. But not to be stopped, the trio take out the soldiers assigned to escort them away and try to get more intel — not just on what’s happening with Wanda, but what Hayward is doing.
Darcy is able to figure out that he’s tracking the movements of Vision within the barrier (and that he has a secret plan connected to Vision called Cataract, which, clever) and wants to do more digging; Monica, though, is eager to get back inside Westview. “I know what Wanda’s feeling and I won’t stop until I help her,” she says, even after Darcy warns her that after two trips through the barrier, her cells are being rewritten. “It’s changing you.” Darcy stays behind while Monica and Jimmy head off to meet a contact, who should be able to help Monica get back inside the barrier. (And yes, said contact is very likely another exciting MCU cameo, so get your speculation hats on now if they weren’t already oh who are I kidding.)
All of this comes together when Vision reaches the barrier and manages to push his way through; the outside world, though, is not a welcoming place for him, and he literally begins to disintegrate even as he begs the S.W.O.R.D. agents who rush towards him to help the people inside the town.
The good news is that both the Maximoff twins have had their powers activated in this episode, and while Tommy has his uncle’s super-speed, Billy seems to have abilities much like his mother, and he’s able to sense that his father is in trouble. The bad news is that Billy’s solution is to rush to Wanda and tell her Vision needs help; she responds by expanding the barrier surrounding Westview, absorbing S.W.O.R.D. agents and the base (not to mention a poor captured Darcy, handcuffed to a Jeep) and turning them into a literal circus.
Hayward and a few of his people escape in an SUV; we don’t see whether or not Monica and Jimmy also avoided the barrier or got caught in it. Wanda’s eyes return from flashing red to normal, and we’re left hanging with that now-familiar title card: “Please stand by.” It’s the most cliffhanger-y cliffhanger of the series yet, as it becomes clear how much worse things might get before they get better.
And Now For These Messages
- This week’s commercial was the weirdest yet! For a full breakdown, check out our ongoing coverage of the in-show commercials.
- It takes talent for a professional costume designer to make something look handmade, so props to Mayes C. Rubeo for this week’s costumes. Favorite touch: Pietro’s jeans shorts.
- There are so many great touches scattered into this episode in terms of the relationship between Wanda and Vision, but “there were no other clothes in my closet” as a reason for why he’s wearing the Mexican wrestler costume sticks in my memory, as it’s a sign of just how extensive Wanda’s control (we assume) has gotten.
- This episode is a Malcolm homage, but the flashback to baby Pietro and Wanda trick-or-treating felt very reminiscent of the dearly departed ABC comedy Happy Endings, which also featured characters of Eastern European heritage. (Though the Kerkovich sisters are from Serbia.)
- Speaking of other great shows this show reminds me of: On a purely superficial level, Paul Bettany being tall, blonde, and British invokes thoughts of Chris Geere, another tall, blonde, and British actor who was delightful on FX’s You’re the Worst. But in his first scene in this episode, he had tons of Geere-esque energy (perhaps because he was wearing a disguise and had a scheme he was working on). It’ll be interesting if/when the rumored Modern Family homage episode happens, as Geere actually guest-starred on that series for a few episodes.
- “What happened to your accent?” “What happened to yours?” We’ve been wondering that too.
New episodes of WandaVision stream Fridays on Disney+. For more, here’s our recent interview with Jac Schaeffer, as well as every Easter egg we’ve spotted to date.